UPDATED with more numbers and analysis. IFC Films put some zest into the specialty box office with the launch of its Toronto debut The Death of Stalin, starring Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Simon Russell.
The comedy, directed and co-written by Armando Iannucci (Veep, In the Loop) posted the year’s best opening weekend PTA among the specialties, gross more than $181K in just four theaters for an average of $45,372.
Other new limited releases were mixed. Focus Features opened drama-thriller Thoroughbreds in 549 theaters Friday, grossing $1,225,000. Cinema Guild opened Hong Sang-soo’s Claire’s Camera, starring Isabelle Huppert, with an exclusive run grossing $11,843. Greenwich Entertainment’s documentary Itzhak, about celebrated violinist Itzhak Perlman, grossed $14,442 in two New York locations in its opening window. Sony Classics varied its typical opening-weekend strategy, opening The Leisure Seeker with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland in 28 locations Friday, grossing an estimated three-day $119,573.
Fox Searchlight jumped its Best Picture Oscar-winner The Shape of Water back into fairly wide release in the wake of its multiple wins last Sunday, crossing $61M over the weekend. Sony Classics also nearly doubled runs for its Best Foreign Language Oscar winner, A Fantastic Woman, grossing $287K. Other Oscar winners, however, treaded water after picking up their statues.
IFC Films said The Death of Stalin “sold out multiple shows on both coasts after benefiting from rave reviews and strong word of mouth.” (The “rave reviews” claim is legit — the film is at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and 88% on Metacritic.) Stalin is also the second-highest multi-screen opening in IFC Films’ history, behind only Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which had a stratospheric $77,524 opening weekend average in five theaters in 2014.
The company has experience with Iannucci, having distributed the writer-director’s lacerating 2009 political comedy In The Loop, which grossing nearly $192K in 8 locations in its opening weekend, averaging $23,983. It went on to cume over $2.38M. “We’ve been very confident in the film all along,” said IFC Films co-president Jonathan Sehring earlier this week. “The first screening [in Toronto] played better than we thought. It’s a comedy that is about one of the most notorious figures of the 20th century, but [Iannucci] more than pulled it off.” Stalin will head to the top 10 markets in its second weekend, followed by the top 25 in week three.
Drama-thriller Thoroughbreds opened in 549 locations this weekend, by far the greatest number of runs among the weekend’s crop of new specialties. The Focus Features release grossed $1,225,000, averaging a modest $2,229. The company indicated Sunday that the result were “a bit below” their estimate. The title will head to additional markets.
Greenwich Entertainment’s documentary Itzhak by Alison Chernick had a solid bow with opening runs at the Quad and Landmark 57 West in New York, grossing $14,442 Friday to Sunday, averaging $7,221. The title will next head to Los Angeles. It will be in the top 15 markets by April 6. Said Greenwhich’s Ed Arentz this week about the film and its subject, violinist Itzhak Perlman: “It struck me as crowd-pleasing and a completely charming portrait of a guy who has overcome a lot in his life to become one of the world’s greatest violinists.”
Sony Classics opened the Leisure Seeker by Paolo Virzi in 28 locations around the country, a noted departure from the company’s typical roll out in several New York and Los Angeles locations for most of its titles. Starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, the feature grossed $119,573 in 28 theaters, averaging $4,270. Over the weekend, Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker said the adventure-comedy-drama is “not a critics’ movie,” and is finding its appeal in Middle America.
“What is interesting is that it opened very well in Phoenix and several locations in Florida,” Barker said. “It has a more mainstream appeal…[and] is a showcase for two actors that the public has adored for decades doing what audiences love to see them doing.” The Leisure Seeker will head to additional markets heading into spring.
SPC also added two runs for Israeli drama Foxtrot in its second frame. The title grossed $29,757 in six theaters Friday to Sunday, averaging $4,960 (-46%). The feature opened Oscar weekend in four locations, grossing $36,786, averaging $9,197. Its two-week tally comes to $112,569.
Only a couple Oscar winners among the specialty crop appear to have had noticeable bumps from their wins at least this weekend. Fox Searchlight’s The Shape of Water, which took Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro returned to wide release, grossing over $2.4M in 1,552 locations, averaging $1,551. The theater count was up from last weekend’s 832 runs with a weekend gross of $1.4M ($1,683 PTA).
Chile’s Best Foreign Language winner A Fantastic Woman played 77 additional locations this weekend, taking in $287,277 in 166 theaters, averaging $1,731, which is actually a bit higher than the title’s $1,688 PTA last weekend in 89 theaters. The weekend’s gross also pushed its cume over seven figures, landing at over $1.17M.
Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell last Sunday. The title played 218 fewer locations vs. last weekend, however, grossing $705K in 552 theaters, averaging $1,277, though the feature is in its 18th weekend of release. Billboards has cumed $53.34M.
Best Actor winner Gary Oldman’s Darkest Hour shed 668 runs compared with last weekend, playing 245 theaters and taking in $280K for an improved $1,140 PTA. The Focus title grossed $570K the weekend prior, averaging $622. It has now cumed $56.1M.
Allison Janney took Best Supporting Actress for her role in Neon/30West’s I, Tonya, which is edging closer to the $30M mark. In 243 locations, the title grossed $263,471 Friday to Sunday, averaging $1,084 bringing its cumulative total to $29,509,813 as of Sunday.
Claire’s Camera (Cinema Guild) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $11,843
The Death of Stalin (IFC Films) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $181,308, Average $45,327
Hannah (Parade Deck Films) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $11,000, Average $5,500
Itzhak (Greenwich Entertainment) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $14,442, Average $7,221
The Leisure Seeker (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [28 Theaters] Weekend $119,573, Average $4,270
MET Opera: Semiramide (2018) (Fathom Events) NEW [900 Theaters] Weekend $1,200,000, Average $1,333
Thoroughbreds (Focus Features) NEW [549 Theaters] Weekend $1,225,000, Average $2,229
Foxtrot (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [6 Theaters] Weekend $29,757, Average $4,960, Cume $112,569
HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
The Young Karl Marx (The Orchard) Week 3 [13 Theaters] Weekend $11,829, Average $910, Cume $79,724
Double Lover (Cohen Media Group) Week 4 [3 Theaters] Weekend $3,327, Average $1,109, Cume $160,759
Loveless (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4 [37 Theaters] Weekend $54,132, Average $1,463, Cume $303,406
The Party (Roadside Attractions) Week 4 [91 Theaters] Weekend $98,925, Average $1,087, Cume $483,723
Samson (Pure Flix) Week 4 [93 Theaters] Weekend $57,000, Average $613, Cume $4,612,929
La Boda de Valentina (Pantelion/Lionsgate) Week 5 [45 Theaters] Weekend $41,000, Average $911, Cume $2,758,043
A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [166 Theaters] Weekend $287,277, Average $1,731, Cume $1,172,952
Forever My Girl (Roadside Attractions) Week 8 [64 Theaters] Weekend $40,280, Average $629, Cume $16,253,053
The Insult (Cohen Media Group) Week 9 [16 Theaters] Weekend $19,762, Average $1,235, Cume $904,496
Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11 [41 Theaters] Weekend $21,976, Average $536, Cume $811,321
Hostiles (Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures) Week 12 [90 Theaters] Weekend $55,000, Average $611, Cume $29,608,024
Phantom Thread (Focus Features) Week 12 [184 Theaters] Weekend $245,000, Average $1,326, Cume $20,723,000
I, Tonya (Neon/30West) Week 14 [243 Theaters] Weekend $263,471, Average $1,084, Cume $29,509,813
The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 15 [1,552 Theaters] Weekend $2,407,000, Average $1,551, Cume $61,000,138
Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 16 [309 Theaters] Weekend $304,228, Average $985, Cume $17,468,973
Darkest Hour (Focus Features) Week 16 [245 Theaters] Weekend $280,000, Average $1,140, Cume $56,103,000
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 18 [552 Theaters] Weekend $705,000, Average $1,277, Cume $53,349,562
Lady Bird (A24) Week 19 [156 Theaters] Weekend $200,035, Average $1,282, Cume $48,727,873
BPM (Beats Per Minute) (The Orchard) Week 21 [1 Theaters] Weekend $1,537, Cume $120,613
Faces Places (Cohen Media Group) Week 23 [12 Theaters] Weekend $10,267, Average $856, Cume $921,919